Maybe think twice before smuggling back that beachy souvenir.
We all know the feeling of nearing the end of a vacation and wanting desperately to hold onto something that’ll remind you of a place, a moment, or a memory forever. And, tempting as it is to reach down and grab just a fistful of grains from what seems like a vast and never-ending supply of beach sand, there are consequences to doing so—both on the environment and, on the Italian island of Sardinia, on your wallet.
The stunning slice of paradise—the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea with more than 1,200 miles of coastline—has begun enforcing laws within the past year that issue fines to anyone who pilfers treasures from its beaches, including sand and shells. Just recently, a Naples-born resident of the U.K. was fined more than $1,000 when authorities discovered sand stolen from a beach near the northern city of Olbia, according to CNN.
Sand thieves are being warned, however, that fines could be much worse, ranging anywhere from €500 (roughly $580) to €3,000 (roughly $3,482). According to CNN, violators are often caught in airport security, where customs officials will often search bags and confiscate the stolen goods.
Airport security officials have seen so much sand theft over the years, they created a Facebook page titled “Sardinia, robbed and plundered” to raise awareness of the severity of the issue. “During the last 20 years of activity, we have seized tens and tens of tons of material…Every year we take care to bring everything back to the places of origin at the end of the summer season,” says the page administrator.
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While Sardinia is making headlines due to its hefty fines, it’s not the only coastline that’s banned the removal of sand from its beaches. Many Caribbean islands have laws against sand theft, as does the entire state of Hawaii.
So, before you go filling jars or baggies on your next vacation, make sure to read up on the destination’s laws (and pay attention to signs on the sand).